Montreal Canadiens: 2022 Draft Progress Report - Where does Juraj Slafkovsky stack up?

New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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When general manager Kent Hughes took the stage at the Bell Centre to announce the Montreal Canadiens first overall draft pick on July 7 2022, it was a franchise defining moment. Despite many of the hometown fans chanting their support for projected top prospect Shane Wright, Hughes boldly went in another direction.

It’s been 18 months since the Canadiens controversially selected Juraj Slafkovksy at the top of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. While it may still be a tad early to cast ultimate judgment on the many young players that were selected that day, we are starting to get some indication on how some of them might fare at the highest level.

We’ll begin with Slafkovsky who it’s safe to stay is still trying to find his footing in the National Hockey League. Hardly a unanimous number 1 when he was taken, he was always going to be a bit of a project. He’s now reached the 80 game mark in his career and has eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points to show for it. Not exactly paltry numbers but the hulking winger from Slovakia is showing steady improvement.

His offensive game has noticeably grown since being placed on the Habs top line with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. He has also been skating with the club’s first team power play unit, giving him additional opportunities to showcase his skill set. His average ice time is rising too, from 12 minutes a game in his rookie year to 16 minutes a game as a sophomore. The kid is coming along.

However Habs fans are an impatient bunch and for many of them, the returns are not coming in fast enough. Work certainly needs to be done, no argument here. Is Slaf really a bust though? Now may be as good a time as ever to see how big number 20 is really doing compared to the rest of his peers from the class of ’22.